Paul Horrell13 May 2014

McLaren P13: costs less than 911 Turbo S

It's nearly here: CEO Mike Flewitt spills the beans on the 'baby McLaren' to Paul Horrell

A McLaren key, yesterday

The McLaren P13 will cost two-thirds of the price of the 650S - so that's £135,000. It'll go on sale in September next year. And it will have a V8 engine derived from the one in the 650S. These concrete details were given to TopGear by McLaren Automotive's CEO Mike Flewitt.

He says of the car, "McLaren is consistent. It will be the best driver's car in its segment. That's what we do. All our cars have low-capacity powerful turbo engines and are light and have a carbonfibre tub.

"If you saw the P13's tub and the P11's (12C and 650S), they are different but made on similar principles. Both are two-seaters, both mid-engined, but with different engines and suspensions. That's how the 650S will justify its premium.

"All our cars will use the V8, with the same block dimensions and bore centres, so it's a related version in the P13. After all it's only three years old, and has lots of development left in it.

"So the P13 isn't noticeably smaller than the 650S. By the time you've packaged that engine and two people, that's how big it has to be. We always make the exterior as small as possible. We didn't make the 650S big just to get road presence - that's not us.

"Of course the 650S will have more speed and grip than the P13. But the art for the P13 is the same as the 650S and even the P1: that the driver can exploit the capability of the car, without the electronics intervening. Things like our steering are consistent across our cars: low friction, little self-centring, but not as direct as a Ferrari because that can be tiring.

"Getting the intangible feel is what matters. We can all recognise it, even if it can't be measured. The P13 will be the most engaging car in its segment." Flewitt recognises that in the early days of the MP4-12C the car was a bit short of that quality. It was the best numbers car of its kind, but not the most exciting or sensory. That changed with a series of upgrades, and eventually with the 650S.

Flewitt concedes that it's hard to get the cars to look very different when they are all mid-engined two-seaters. But he says because the P13 will have less power and so less need for cooling than the 650S, that will affect the shape. That shape as we've previously learned, will be formed from aluminium, to wrap the carbon tub.

P13, by the way, is just the codename. What will it be for production? Flewitt laughs. "That's the most challenging part of the process. You think it'll be fun but then you find almost all the names you think of can't be used because someone else owns them. There was a logic in the MP4-12C, and then everyone called it 12C so after a while so did we. The P1 followed from the F1, and there was the thing about pole position. The 650S was because we wanted to emphasise the power. But people criticise us for our naming strategy and I say we don't have one.

"Part of the trouble is being English. We can't get away with things the Italians can do. I can't call a car the Ron or the Woking."

Now read some more secrets of the new baby McLaren

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